8

This may sound funny, but in our country, this is a very common phenomenon, i.e. temporary shortage of water supply and the water supply line remaining closed for several hours. However, in a software firm, this scenario is not common, and in no ways desirable.

For almost over a year, we've been facing serious problems while going to the washroom. There are in total 4 washrooms including 1 female washroom, most of the time 2 of them don't have water supply. Only one male washroom and that female washroom have constant water supply and due to this reason, the male washroom always remains occupied in every hours of the day.

Whenever any male employee needs to go to the washroom, he has to wait for a long period of time to get a chance. This seriously reduces productive work hours hence affecting the productivity of our employees. Besides, most of our employees, me inclusive, are Muslims. We are to maintain common hygiene pretty strictly and also perform compulsory ablution1 before every prayer. Since 3 out of 5 of our daily prayer times fall within our office hours (Zuhr, Asr and Maghrib), we need to go to the washroom at least 3 times a day to perform our ablution. The situation gets terrible when we see a huge queue in front of the washrooms before each prayer. Not only do our prayers get delayed, but also our work, our delivery and our meetings. A separate station for ablution (which you can find in almost all mosques) was set up for a brief period of time. Management themselves broke it.

Since we have less number of female employees, and female washroom never loses water supply, there isn't any crowd in front of the female washroom.

Some of our senior employees have already complained to the top management, but they did not pay heed to us. Now, I feel it is important to create pressure on the top management regarding this issue. Question is, how are we going to do that? Should we approach our HR and lodge a formal complain through them, or should we directly approach the top management and urge them to take necessary steps? Now this is crazy!!! Management accuses the employees of lack of productivity at the slightest of loss or lag, but they don't care to resolve the reason behind this lack of productivity. It is their responsibility to ensure a healthy work-environment for the employees, they can't just demand productivity from the employees without doing that.

Edit:

I forgot to mention one important point. There is actually 2 more washrooms in the 2nd building of our office and that is actually the management section. The washroom crisis I mentioned is in the 1st building which is the development section. However, it is very undesirable that employees are crowding the management section every now and then just to use their washroom, although, thinking of that, I have just got an idea this is exactly the thing we must do to wake them up!!!!!!

1: In Islam, a pre-prayer ablution typically needs the following activities to be done 3 times each - 1. wash both wrists 2. rinse the mouth 3. wash the nose 4. wash entire face including eyebrows, mustaches and beard 5. wash both hands from elbow upto wrists, 6. wash entire head and the earlobes, but only once, 7. wash both feet including the ankles, thrice.

  • Is it by any means possible to use the sink (and perhaps even toilet) in the ladies room? I'm not sure if it's accepted by your company or culture, but this would reduce the queue. – Edwin Lambregts May 4 '15 at 15:06
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    How about a bucket, which you ask a woman to fill for you in her washroom, and you take into the male washroom to rinse with - using your own sink? This would solve your immediate crisis and also make visible to management what a stumbling block the water situation is causing. – Kate Gregory May 4 '15 at 15:23
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    If the lack of water is an infrastructure problem, it may not be possible for management to solve it themselves. In that case, would it make any sense to request that they provide water bottles to Muslim employees to use for ablution? As a side note, I don't think that regularly losing access to water for a few hours in the middle of the day is desirable for any kind of business. – IllusiveBrian May 4 '15 at 15:26
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    I would make a concerted effort to shake management's hands all day. Then go over why you can't wash your hands after going to the bathroom. – blankip May 4 '15 at 18:48
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    I think your own suggestion of going over to use the Management bathroom is a great idea. It makes the problem more obvious, and makes it shared. Of course, there is a chance that they will then simply ban the developers from using it :( – Jane S May 4 '15 at 21:39
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I think a strong business case is pretty easily made to management. "With A number of male Muslim employees, B man hours are taken by call to prayer. C% of B is spent in the washroom queue. The washroom queue in this facility is costing the company $D per year and reduces our ability to meet deadlines. Please consider solution 1, 2, and 3 as a way to increase site productivity."

  • 2
    What are the solutions 1,2,3 ? – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid May 4 '15 at 16:44
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    Do nothing and factor in more downtime in project estimates to account for site inefficiencies. Access for regular employees to management washrooms. On site water resevoir to allow for washing in the two currently disabled washrooms (include cost estimate and payback period). – Myles May 4 '15 at 17:00
  • AFAIK we've got a motor pump for getting water even if there's no supply. We can ask the management about the maintenance and proper utilization of it. Can't we? – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid May 4 '15 at 17:19
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    Management will listen to "You are wasting this much money by doing nothing." Define the problem and how much it costs before talking about solutions. You need them to be aware and concerned before making suggestions. The suggestion to management should likely be "Investigate if existing water pump supplementation can meet demand and, if not, investigate how to increase capacity." If it's a matter of turn it on and save money, it is a pretty easy management decision. If they are already turning it on to supply the two bathrooms that do get water, then it's a more difficult idea to sell. – Myles May 4 '15 at 17:53
2

I suggest you all present management with a petition requesting that management does whatever it takes to make all washrooms 100% operational. State clearly that the significant wait times for access to the washrooms has an immediate and negative impact on the productivity of the staff.

Personally, thinking about the company's long term welfare - that's just about the last and least thing on my mind when I need to use the washroom and I need to go now :)

  • Is it the last and least thing on management's mind when you need to use the washroom and you need to go right now? – user42272 Dec 22 '15 at 15:54
1

I would suggest some sort of water tank be placed in your building. It should hold enough water to cover the down time. Think of it as some sort of buffer. Ideally it will automatically fill as it empties to a certain level.

Make this a team building exercise. You're all intelligent people, figure it out. You may need to go to management for some plumbing parts costs (especially the holding tank).

In a professional office building, everyone should be allowed to maintain hygiene to acceptable standards. It is not too much to ask for. In a shared/public setting, wait-time must be considered. Ideally, you shouldn't have to do this yourself, but your situation may require it unless you want to completely wait on the company to take action.

  • So now you're transferring your software department to your facilities department but instead of the budget of a facilities department (far beyond cost of parts) it's "a team building exercise" and instead of experience, know-how, certifications, etc. it's "intelligent people"? – user42272 Dec 22 '15 at 15:56
1

Does it have to be water? In canteens and hospitals they have hygiene bottles mounted on the wall so you can clean your hands as you go in. They have some cleaning solution in there. You could even put water in these - one of those big bottles they have in drinking fountains - and have buckets underneath.

1

There is a very easy case to be brought to upper management here.

"The situation with the bathroom queues right now means X manhours are beeing wasted every day due to waiting times at washrooms. This means the shortfall of washrooms is costing the company Y$ a day. I propose to to reduce this cost factor for the company and increase overall employee satisfaction."

0

Simple answer: Just do not tell them. If they keep on asking you about it then let them know gently that you are not going to come down to their level. It will take a little bit of extra effort. Don't go into this thinking that you can fix it without working a few weekends here and there. But eventually things will turn around. Without knowing your family situation, it's a little hard to give specifics but I imagine something along the lines of "No, and neither does my daughter. Could you kindly leave this issue alone." will suffice.

  • 1
    This appears to be intended to answer a different question. – IllusiveBrian Dec 22 '15 at 18:21

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